Criticism sucks. But it’s essential.

If you’re like me, you want to be knighted for what you spend your time doing. All that effort. All those gray cells ignited in the name of art, or commerce, or just hoping an email will get you laid. You write, you want it to be well received. Totally normal.

The difference between someone who’s going to get somewhere and someone who’s not is how they react to and deal with notes.

I like to give work out at an earlier stage than most folks. As soon as I have a draft that hangs together, I get notes. I don’t polish and polish and make it perfect, and then give it to people. I want to give it to them when they can still make a huge difference in the direction of the story. After draft after draft after draft, I don’t want to hear it doesn’t work.

NObody likes being told their work is not up to par. Everyone, just like me, would rather the person critiquing their work say, “I weep at your genius.” They so rarely do. Certainly not at the “early draft” stage. But that’s why you give your work to people… to hear what’s wrong with it NOW, so you have a change to fix the problems that you don’t see… but that an agent or publisher or actor or buyer will.

THAT is who you want to impress, not your friend.

The criticism can hurt, make you angry, make you sad, make you want to stop writing… but keep all that bile to yourself. When someone is gracious enough to give you notes, please be gracious to them. Keep your suicidal thoughts to yourself. Heck, you may want them to read another draft sometime… if you impale yourself on the butter knife at the cafe, chances are that’s the last read you’re gonna get outta that guy…

So, suck it up, take lots of notes, say “Thank you” a lot, and be very grateful.

Then go fix what you feel is helpful.

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3 Comments

Filed under Criticism

3 responses to “Criticism sucks. But it’s essential.

  1. Marti Young

    So very true! I wish more folks would read this!!! Anytime you get your work critiqued, be thankful for the input! They are seeing with a fresh pair of eyes and can see what you’ve missed, what’s confusing, what you need…and can give you great feedback on the pace of your movie.

    When I get my work critiqued I look forward to seeming what I need to tweak or change. I don’t cling to any scenes, any dialogue that does not move my story forward. I suggest everyone that is serious about moving forward with their screenwriting should do the same. 🙂

  2. Scott Aiman

    Very well put.
    I have learned to love all my critics. Even you.

  3. SA CARPENTER

    Hello Mr. Akers,

    Well, I’m still at my Chic Harley screenplay project. So far, I have 11 rewrites and have gone through some 10 reams of paper. I have delayed a script consult due to some concerns regarding the rights to the story. I have based my script on two author’s books. I have my script in a place where it’s presentable.

    I know you have recommended not getting too involved in a script without consults early on.

    However, I didn’t want to invest the dollars for a script consult without their having seen my spec. script first. Does this plan seem reasonable?

    I have consulted DB Gilles already. I also would be curious to know your rates and services. If I can get a positive response from the writers, a script consult will be my next step.

    Thanks Again, for all your good advice.

    Yea CHic, Yea OHio,

    SA CARPENTER

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